Chelsea Flower Show 2015: six of the best gardens

From modern retreats to a tropical haven, we choose our favourite gardens from this year’s spectacular Chelsea Flower Show.
Welcome to paradise, where the flowers are tropical orchids the colours of parakeets, a multi-level waterfall cascades into an oasis of ferns and a pavilion is garlanded with jungle creepers.
 
The Hidden Beauty of Kranji, a large show garden (pictured above) created by designers John Tan and Raymond Toh, features plants found in Kranji, a suburb in Singapore that has a preserved natural environment. If only we could grow the same in Surbiton, although these species and hybrid orchids can be grown indoors or under glass.
 
How will the orchids fare during a week of changeable weather? Mark Gregory, who built the garden with his company Landform Consultants, says nobody has a clue, but then this is a place where magic happens, as the garden illustrates.

TAKE A TOUR: Chelsea Flower Show 2015 - the best show gardens and behind the scenes

 
JOIN US AT OUR SPECIAL READER EVENING: HOW A CHELSEA SHOW GARDEN IS CREATED
On Wednesday 3 June at 6.30pm, join us at Clifton Nurseries and hear Matthew Wilson, designer of the Royal Bank of Canada Garden, reveal what really goes on behind the scenes at Chelsea. The evening costs £15, which includes canapés and a glass of Prosecco. To book, visit Clifton Nurseries.

Channelling Chatsworth
“It felt like we were a team of termites — building, building, building without needing to communicate what was needed with one another,” says maverick designer Dan Pearson of his 20-strong team. Together they created the greatest tour de force at this year’s show — a representation of a small piece of the 105-acre Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire.
 
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Gold and Best in Show: Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden designed by Dan Pearson

Sponsored by Laurent-Perrier and inspired by the trout stream and Joseph Paxton’s rockery at Chatsworth, the garden is a sublime ornamental woodland with a backdrop of boulders. It is bound to trigger a stampede to garden centres for flowering shrubs and trees, plant groups that Pearson, who has a naturalistic style, has championed for some time.
 
Retreat to an oak tree house
For the M&G Garden Jo Thompson conjured up a romantic space that incorporates an oak retreat reached by a stepladder, a large natural swimming pond, a woodland of river birches, alders and acers, and tumbling roses  and peonies.
 
“I realised halfway through that I was designing it for myself,” says Thompson. “It’s my ultimate dream garden, with masses of roses and a retreat that’s a cross between a tree house and an office on stilts.”
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Silver Gilt: M&G Garden designed by Jo Thompson
 
Although she strives for something similar in her own East Sussex garden — she has already planted 40 climbing roses — the reality is a little less romantic.
 
“I have a big, white goalpost and a chocolate Labrador to contend with,” she says. Happily at Chelsea, all is fantasy and real life does not intervene.
 
Even the bees get a designer hive
The Homebase Urban Retreat Garden is an urban community plot designed by Adam Frost. He reveals how wildlife can flourish in the city among modernist materials such as poured concrete and Corten steel.
 
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Gold: Homebase Urban Retreat Garden designed by Adam Frost.
 
Influenced by the Bauhaus movement of the early 20th century, the garden’s two pressed steel water walls lead into pools of water that act as paddling pools in summer, while a series of layered cedar wood rings provide seating.
 
That striking Corten steel pavilion at the back of the garden, clad in cedar and set among a bed of tree ferns, offers a viewing area from the roof, which is covered with wildflower turf and is home to a colony of honeybees, housed in a Bauhaus-inspired cedar hive complete with Corten steel roof.
  
A garden of sensual curves — with no need to water
“London gardens can be conservative because so often they’re responding to vernacular architecture,” says Matthew Wilson of Clifton Nurseries, whose show garden for Royal Bank of Canada, below, is anything but conservative, with fabulous curved decking, futuristic furniture and a macro bonsai olive tree.
 
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Silver Gilt: Royal Bank of Canada garden designed by Matthew Wilson
 
In fact, Wilson designed this sensual space to show that we can grow both edible and ornamental plants without turning on the tap. How? By creating the right conditions for them to thrive in. This includes siting drought-loving plants such as California poppies in a zero-irrigation dry area and installing a reservoir pool that collects rainwater and trickles through the garden to nurture water-loving plants such as Japanese iris.
 
Enjoy a detailed tour of this garden in Homes & Property on Wednesday 27 May 2015.
  
Grasse plants are heaven-scent
Visitors at Chelsea just need to follow the sublime scents to discover a Provençal garden that showcases the fragrant plants of Grasse, historically renowned as the centre of the perfume industry, which is currently experiencing a renaissance. This is due to the support of ecologically sensitive companies such as L’Occitane, which happens to be the sponsor of A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse.
 
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Gold: A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse designed by James Basson

Designed by James Basson who, lucky chap, lives just outside Grasse, the garden has seductive seats beneath a quartet of olive trees. Aside from the classic perfumer’s ingredients — jasmine, lavender and violet — it showcases the rose de Mai, considered to have the finest fragrance for perfume. In fact, it is substituted for a more beautiful rose, Yolande d’Aragon. Order from Classic Roses for end-of-year delivery.
 
Tears and triumphs: how a Chelsea show garden is created
Come to our reader evening at 6.30pm at Clifton Nurseries W9 on June 3 and hear Matthew Wilson, designer of the Royal Bank of Canada Garden, reveal what really goes on behind the scenes at Chelsea. The evening costs £15, which includes canapés and a glass of Prosecco. To book, visit Clifton Nurseries.
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